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David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, who is best known today for his highly influential system of philosophical empiricism, skepticism, and naturalism.
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THE PHILOSOPHICAL WORKS
by David Hume
Published 2018 by Blackmore Dennett
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE.
DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
APPENDIX TO THE TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE.
As all the perceptions of the mind may be divided into impressions and ideas, so the impressions admit of another division into original and secondary. This division of the impressions is the same with that which I formerly made use of when I distinguished them into impressions of sensation and reflection. Original impressions, or impressions of sensation, are such as, without any antecedent perception, arise in the soul, from the constitution of the body, from the animal spirits, or from the application of objects to the external organs. Secondary, or reflective impressions, are such as proceed from some of these original ones, either immediately, or by the interposition of its idea. Of the first kind are all the impressions of the senses, and all bodily pains and pleasures: of the second are the passions, and other emotions resembling them.
'Tis certain that the mind, in its perceptions, must begin somewhere; and that since the impressions precede their correspondent ideas, there must be some impressions, which, without any introduction, make their appearance in the soul. As these depend upon natural and physical causes, the examination of them would lead me too far from my present subject, into the sciences of anatomy and natural philosophy. For this reason I shall here confine myself to those other impressions, which I have called secondary and reflective, as arising either from the original impressions, or from their ideas. Bodily pains and pleasures are the source of many passions, both when felt and considered by the mind; but arise originally in the soul, or in the body, whichever you please to call it, without any preceding thought or perception. A fit of the gout produces a long train of passions, as grief, hope, fear; but is not derived immediately from any affection or idea.
The reflective impressions may be divided into two kinds, viz. the calm and the violent. Of the first kind is the sense of beauty and deformity in action, composition, and external objects. Of the second are the passions of love and hatred, grief and joy, pride and humility. This division is far from being exact. The raptures of poetry and music frequently rise to the greatest height; while those other impressions, properly called passions, may decay into so soft an emotion, as to become in a manner imperceptible. But as, in general, the passions are more violent than the emotions arising from beauty and deformity, these impressions have been commonly distinguished from each other. The subject of the human mind being so copious and various, I shall here take advantage of this vulgar and specious division, that I may proceed with the greater order; and, having said all I thought necessary concerning our ideas, shall now explain those violent emotions or passions, their nature, origin, causes and effects.
When we take a survey of the passions, there occurs a division of them into direct and indirect. By direct passions I understand such as arise immediately from good or evil, from pain or pleasure. By indirect, such as proceed from the same principles, but by the conjunction of other qualities. This distinction I cannot at present justify or explain any farther. I can only observe in general, that under the indirect passions I comprehend pride, humility, ambition, vanity, love, hatred, envy, pity, malice, generosity, with their dependents. And under the direct passions, desire, aversion, grief, joy, hope, fear, despair, and security. I shall begin with the former.
The passions of pride and humility being simple and uniform impressions, 'tis impossible we can ever, by a multitude of words, give a just definition of them, or indeed of any of the passions. The utmost we can pretend to is a description of them, by an enumeration of such circumstances as attend them: but as these words, pride and humility, are of general use, and the impressions they represent the most common of any, every one, of himself, will be able to form a just idea of them, without any danger of mistake. For which reason, not to lose time upon preliminaries, I shall immediately enter upon the examination of these passions.
'Tis evident, that pride and humility, though directly contrary, have yet the same object. This object is self, or that succession of related ideas and impressions, of which we have an intimate memory and consciousness. Here the view always fixes when we are actuated by either of these passions. According as our idea of ourself is more or less advantageous, we feel either of those opposite affections, and are elated by pride, or dejected with humility. Whatever other objects may be comprehended by the mind, they are always considered with a view to ourselves; otherwise they would never be able either to excite these passions, or produce the smallest increase or diminution of them. When self enters not into the consideration, there is no room either for pride or humility.
But though that connected succession of perceptions, which we call self be always the object of these two passions, 'tis impossible it can be their cause, or be sufficient alone to excite them. For as these passions are directly contrary, and have the same object in common; were their object also their cause, it could never produce any degree of the one passion, but at the same time it must excite an equal degree of the other; which opposition and contrariety must destroy both. 'Tis impossible a man can at the same time be both proud and humble; and where he has different reasons for these passions, as frequently happens, the passions either take place alternately, or, if they encounter, the one annihilates the other, as far as its strength goes, and the remainder only of that which is superior, continues to operate upon the mind. But in the present case neither of the passions could ever become superior; because, supposing it to be the view only of ourself which excited them, that being perfectly indifferent to either, must produce both in the very same proportion; or, in other words, can produce neither. To excite any passion, and at the same time raise an equal share of its antagonist, is immediately to undo what was done, and must leave the mind at last perfectly calm and indifferent.
We must therefore make a distinction betwixt the cause and the object of these passions; betwixt that idea which excites them, and that to which they direct their view when excited. Pride and humility, being once raised, immediately turn our attention to ourself, and regard that as their ultimate and final object; but there is something farther requisite in order to raise them: something, which is peculiar to one of the passions, and produces not both in the very same degree. The first idea that is presented to the mind is that of the cause or productive principle. This excites the passion connected with it; and that passion, when excited, turns our view to another idea, which is that of self. Here then is a passion placed betwixt two ideas, of which the one produces it, and the other is produced by it. The first idea therefore represents the cause, the second the object of the passion.
To begin with the causes of pride and humility; we may observe, that their most obvious and remarkable property is the vast variety of subjects on which they may be placed. Every valuable quality of the mind, whether of the imagination, judgment, memory or disposition; wit, good sense, learning, courage, justice, integrity; all these are the causes of pride, and their opposites of humility. Nor are these passions confined to the mind, but extend their view to the body likewise. A man may be proud of his beauty, strength, agility, good mien, address in dancing, riding, fencing, and of his dexterity in any manual business or manufacture. But this is not all. The passion, looking farther, comprehends whatever objects are in the least allied or related to us. Our country, family, children, relations, riches, houses, gardens, horses, dogs, clothes; any of these may become a cause either of pride or of humility.
From the consideration of these causes, it appears necessary we should make a new distinction in the causes of the passion, betwixt that quality which operates, and the subject on which it is placed. A man, for instance, is vain of a beautiful house which belongs to him, or which he has himself built and contrived. Here the object of the passion is himself, and the cause is the beautiful house: which cause again is subdivided into two parts, viz. the quality, which operates upon the passion, and the subject, in which the quality inheres. The quality is the beauty, and the subject is the house, considered as his property or contrivance. Both these parts are essential, nor is the distinction vain and chimerical. Beauty, considered merely as such, unless placed upon something related to us, never produces any pride or vanity; and the strongest relation alone, without beauty, or something else in its place, has as little influence on that passion. Since, therefore, these two particulars are easily separated, and there is a necessity for their conjunction, in order to produce the passion, we ought to consider them as component parts of the cause; and infix in our minds an exact idea of this distinction.
Being so far advanced as to observe a difference betwixt the object of the passions and their cause, and to distinguish in the cause the quality, which operates on the passions, from the subject, in which it inheres; we now proceed to examine what determines each of them to be what it is, and assigns such a particular object and quality, and subject to these affections. By this means we shall fully understand the origin of pride and humility.
'Tis evident, in the first place, that these passions are determined to have self for their object, not only by a natural, but also by an original property. No one can doubt but this property is natural, from the constancy and steadiness of its operations. 'Tis always self, which is the object of pride and humility; and whenever the passions look beyond, 'tis still with a view to ourselves; nor can any person or object otherwise have any influence upon us.
That this proceeds from an original quality or primary impulse, will likewise appear evident, if we consider that 'tis the distinguishing characteristic of these passions. Unless nature had given some original qualities to the mind, it could never have any secondary ones; because in that case it would have no foundation for action, nor could ever begin to exert itself. Now these qualities, which we must consider as original, are such as are most inseparable from the soul, and can be resolved into no other: and such is the quality which determines the object of pride and humility.
We may, perhaps, make it a greater question, whether the causes that produce the passion, be as natural as the object to which it is directed, and whether all that vast variety proceeds from caprice, or from the constitution of the mind. This doubt we shall soon remove, if we cast our eye upon human nature, and consider that, in all nations and ages, the same objects still give rise to pride and humility; and that upon the view even of a stranger, we can know pretty nearly what will either increase or diminish his passions of this kind. If there be any variation in this particular, it proceeds from nothing but a difference in the tempers and complexions of men, and is, besides, very inconsiderable. Can we imagine it possible, that while human nature remains the same, men will ever become entirely indifferent to their power, riches, beauty or personal merit, and that their pride and vanity will not be affected by these advantages?
But though the causes of pride and humility be plainly natural, we shall find, upon examination, that they are not original, and that 'tis utterly impossible they should each of them be adapted to these passions by a particular provision and primary constitution of nature. Beside their prodigious number, many of them are the effects of art, and arise partly from the industry, partly from the caprice, and partly from the good fortune of men. Industry produces houses, furniture, clothes. Caprice determines their particular kinds and qualities. And good fortune frequently contributes to all this, by discovering the effects that result from the different mixtures and combinations of bodies. 'Tis absurd therefore to imagine, that each of these was foreseen and provided for by nature, and that every new production of art, which causes pride or humility, instead of adapting itself to the passion by partaking of some general quality that naturally operates on the mind, is itself the object of an original principle, which till then lay concealed in the soul, and is only by accident at last brought to light. Thus the first mechanic that invented a fine scrutoire, produced pride in him who became possessed of it, by principles different from those which made him proud of handsome chairs and tables. As this appears evidently ridiculous, we must conclude, that each cause of pride and humility is not adapted to the passions by a distinct original quality, but that there are some one or more circumstances common to all of them, on which their efficacy depends.
Besides, we find in the course of nature, that though the effects be many, the principles from which they arise are commonly but few and simple, and that 'tis the sign of an unskilful naturalist to have recourse to a different quality, in order to explain every different operation. How much more must this be true with regard to the human mind, which, being so confined a subject, may justly be thought incapable of containing such a monstrous heap of principles, as would be necessary to excite the passions of pride and humility, were each distinct cause adapted to the passion by a distinct set of principles!
Here, therefore, moral philosophy is in the same condition as natural, with regard to astronomy before the time of Copernicus. The ancients, though sensible of that maxim, that Nature does nothing in vain, contrived such intricate systems of the heavens, as seemed inconsistent with true philosophy, and gave place at last to something more simple and natural. To invent without scruple a new principle to every new phenomenon, instead of adapting it to the old; to overload our hypothesis with a variety of this kind, are certain proofs that none of these principles is the just one, and that we only desire, by a number of falsehoods, to cover our ignorance of the truth.
Thus we have established two truths without any obstacle or difficulty, that 'tis from natural principles this variety of causes excite pride and humility, and that 'tis not by a different principle each different cause is adapted to its passion. We shall now proceed to inquire how we may reduce these principles to a lesser number, and find among the causes something common on which their influence depends.
In order to this, we must reflect on certain properties of human nature, which, though they have a mighty influence on every operation both of the understanding and passions, are not commonly much insisted on by philosophers. The first of these is the association of ideas, which I have so often observed and explained. 'Tis impossible for the mind to fix itself steadily upon one idea for any considerable time; nor can it by its utmost efforts ever arrive at such a constancy. But however changeable our thoughts may be, they are not entirely without rule and method in their changes. The rule by which they proceed, is to pass from one object to what is resembling, contiguous to, or produced by it. When one idea is present to the imagination, any other, united by these relations naturally follows it, and enters with more facility by means of that introduction.
The second property I shall observe in the human mind is a like association of impressions. All resembling impressions are connected together, and no sooner one arises than the rest immediately follow. Grief and disappointment give rise to anger, anger to envy, envy to malice, and malice to grief again, till the whole circle be completed. In like manner our temper, when elevated with joy, naturally throws itself into love, generosity, pity, courage, pride, and the other resembling affections. 'Tis difficult for the mind, when actuated by any passion, to confine itself to that passion alone, without any change or variation. Human nature is too inconstant to admit of any such regularity. Changeableness is essential to it. And to what can it so naturally change as to affections or emotions, which are suitable to the temper, and agree with that set of passions which then prevail? 'Tis evident then there is an attraction or association among impressions, as well as among ideas; though with this remarkable difference, that ideas are associated by resemblance, contiguity, and causation, and impressions only by resemblance.
In the third place, 'tis observable of these two kinds of association, that they very much assist and forward each other, and that the transition is more easily made where they both concur in the same object. Thus, a man who, by an injury from another, is very much discomposed and ruffled in his temper, is apt to find a hundred subjects of discontent, impatience, fear, and other uneasy passions, especially if he can discover these subjects in or near the person who was the cause of his first passion. Those principles which forward the transition of ideas here concur with those which operate on the passions; and both uniting in one action, bestow on the mind a double impulse. The new passion, therefore, must arise with so much greater violence, and the transition to it must be rendered so much more easy and natural.
Upon this occasion I may cite the authority of an elegant writer, who expresses himself in the following manner:—"As the fancy delights in every thing that is great, strange or beautiful, and is still more pleased the more it finds of these perfections in the same object, so it is capable of receiving a new satisfaction by the assistance of another sense. Thus, any continued sound, as the music of birds or a fall of waters, awakens every moment the mind of the beholder, and makes him more attentive to the several beauties of the place that lie before him. Thus, if there arises a fragrancy of smells or perfumes, they heighten the pleasure of the imagination, and make even the colours and verdure of the landscape appear more agreeable; for the ideas of both senses recommend each other, and are pleasanter together than when they enter the mind separately: as the different colours of a picture, when they are well disposed, set off one another, and receive an additional beauty from the advantage of the situation." In this phenomenon we may remark the association both of impressions and ideas, as well as the mutual assistance they lend each other.
These principles being established on unquestionable experience, I begin to consider how we shall apply them, by revolving over all the causes of pride and humility, whether these causes be regarded as the qualities that operate, or as the subjects on which the qualities are placed. In examining these qualities, I immediately find many of them to concur in producing the sensation of pain and pleasure, independent of those affections which I here endeavour to explain. Thus the beauty of our person, of itself, and by its very appearance, gives pleasure as well as pride; and its deformity, pain as well as humility. A magnificent feast delights us, and a sordid one displeases. What I discover to be true in some instances, I suppose to be so in all, and take it for granted at present, without any farther proof, that every cause of pride, by its peculiar qualities, produces a separate pleasure, and of humility a separate uneasiness.
Again, in considering the subjects, to which these qualities adhere, I make a new supposition, which also appears probable from many obvious instances, viz. that these subjects are either parts of ourselves, or something nearly related to us. Thus the good and bad qualities of our actions and manners constitute virtue and vice, and determine our personal character, than which nothing operates more strongly on these passions. In like manner, 'tis the beauty or deformity of our person, houses, equipage, or furniture, by which we are rendered either vain or humble. The same qualities, when transferred to subjects, which bear us no relation, influence not in the smallest degree either of these affections.
Having thus in a manner supposed two properties of the causes of these affections, viz. that the qualities produce a separate pain or pleasure, and that the subjects, on which the qualities are placed, are related to self; I proceed to examine the passions themselves, in order to find something in them correspondent to the supposed properties of their causes. First, I find, that the peculiar object of pride and humility is determined by an original and natural instinct, and that 'tis absolutely impossible, from the primary constitution of the mind, that these passions should ever look beyond self, or that individual person, of whose actions and sentiments each of us is intimately conscious. Here at last the view always rests, when we are actuated by either of these passions; nor can we, in that situation of mind, ever lose sight of this object. For this I pretend not to give any reason; but consider such a peculiar direction of the thought as an original quality.
The second quality which I discover in these passions, and which I likewise consider as an original quality, is their sensations, or the peculiar emotions they excite in the soul, and which constitute their very being and essence. Thus, pride is a pleasant sensation, and humility a painful; and upon the removal of the pleasure and pain, there is in reality no pride nor humility. Of this our very feeling convinces us; and beyond our feeling, 'tis here in vain to reason or dispute.
If I compare therefore these two established properties of the passions, viz. their object, which is self, and their sensation, which is either pleasant or painful, to the two supposed properties of the causes, viz. their relation to self, and their tendency to produce a pain or pleasure independent of the passion; I immediately find, that taking these suppositions to be just, the true system breaks in upon me with an irresistible evidence. That cause, which excites the passion, is related to the object, which nature has attributed to the passion; the sensation, which the cause separately produces, is related to the sensation of the passion: from this double relation of ideas and impressions, the passion is derived. The one idea is easily converted into its correlative; and the one impression into that which resembles and corresponds to it: with how much greater facility must this transition be made, where these movements mutually assist each other, and the mind receives a double impulse from the relations both of its impressions and ideas!
That we may comprehend this the better, we must suppose that nature has given to the organs of the human mind a certain disposition fitted to produce a peculiar impression or emotion, which we call pride: to this emotion she has assigned a certain idea, viz. that of self, which it never fails to produce. This contrivance of nature is easily conceived. We have many instances of such a situation of affairs. The nerves of the nose and palate are so disposed, as in certain circumstances to convey such peculiar sensations to the mind: the sensations of lust and hunger always produce in us the idea of those peculiar objects, which are suitable to each appetite. These two circumstances are united in pride. The organs are so disposed as to produce the passion; and the passion, after its production, naturally produces a certain idea. All this needs no proof. 'Tis evident we never should be possessed of that passion, were there not a disposition of mind proper for it; and 'tis as evident, that the passion always turns our view to ourselves, and makes us think of our own qualities and circumstances.
This being fully comprehended, it may now be asked, Whether nature produces the passion immediately of herself, or whether she must be assisted by the cooperation of other causes? For 'tis observable, that in this particular her conduct is different in the different passions and sensations. The palate must be excited by an external object, in order to produce any relish: but hunger arises internally, without the concurrence of any external object. But however the case may stand with other passions and impressions, 'tis certain that pride requires the assistance of some foreign object, and that the organs which produce it exert not themselves like the heart and arteries, by an original internal movement. For, first, daily experience convinces us, that pride requires certain causes to excite it, and languishes when unsupported by some excellency in the character, in bodily accomplishments, in clothes, equipage, or fortune. Secondly, 'tis evident pride would be perpetual if it arose immediately from nature, since the object is always the same, and there is no disposition of body peculiar to pride, as there is to thirst and hunger. Thirdly, humility is in the very same situation with pride; and therefore either must, upon this supposition, be perpetual likewise, or must destroy the contrary passion from the very first moment; so that none of them could ever make its appearance. Upon the whole, we may rest satisfied with the foregoing conclusion, that pride must have a cause as well as an object, and that the one has no influence without the other.
The difficulty, then, is only to discover this cause, and find what it is that gives the first motion to pride, and sets those organs in action which are naturally fitted to produce that emotion. Upon my consulting experience, in order to resolve this difficulty, I immediately find a hundred different causes that produce pride; and upon examining these causes, I suppose, what at first I perceive to be probable, that all of them concur in two circumstances, which are, that of themselves they produce an impression allied to the passion, and are placed on a subject allied to the object of the passion. When I consider after this the nature of relation, and its effects both on the passions and ideas, I can no longer doubt upon these suppositions, that 'tis the very principle which gives rise to pride, and bestows motion on those organs, which, being naturally disposed to produce that affection, require only a first impulse or beginning to their action. Any thing that gives a pleasant sensation, and is related to self, excites the passion of pride, which is also agreeable, and has self for its object.
What I have said of pride is equally true of humility. The sensation of humility is uneasy, as that of pride is agreeable; for which reason the separate sensation arising from the causes must be reversed, while the relation to self continues the same. Though pride and humility are directly contrary in their effects and in their sensations, they have notwithstanding the same object; so that 'tis requisite only to change the relation of impressions without making any change upon that of ideas. Accordingly we find, that a beautiful house belonging to ourselves produces pride; and that the same house, still belonging to ourselves, produces humility, when by any accident its beauty is changed into deformity, and thereby the sensation of pleasure, which corresponded to pride, is transformed into pain, which is related to humility. The double relation between the ideas and impressions subsists in both cases, and produces an easy transition from the one emotion to the other.
In a word, nature has bestowed a kind of attraction on certain impressions and ideas, by which one of them, upon its appearance, naturally introduces its correlative. If these two attractions or associations of impressions and ideas concur on the same object, they mutually assist each other, and the transition of the affections and of the imagination is made with the greatest ease and facility. When an idea produces an impression, related to an impression, which is connected with an idea related to the first idea, these two impressions must be in a manner inseparable, nor will the one in any case be unattended with the other. 'Tis after this manner that the particular causes of pride and humility are determined. The quality which operates on the passion produces separately an impression resembling it; the subject to which the quality adheres is related to self, the object of the passion: no wonder the whole cause, consisting of a quality and of a subject, does so unavoidably give rise to the passion.
To illustrate this hypothesis, we may compare it to that by which I have already explained the belief attending the judgments which we form from causation. I have observed, that in all judgments of this kind, there is always a present impression and a related idea; and that the present impression gives a vivacity to the fancy, and the relation conveys this vivacity, by an easy transition, to the related idea. Without the present impression, the attention is not fixed, nor the spirits excited. Without the relation, this attention rests on its first object, and has no farther consequence. There is evidently a great analogy betwixt that hypothesis, and our present one of an impression and idea, that transfuse themselves into another impression and idea by means of their double relation: which analogy must be allowed to be no despicable proof of both hypotheses.
But before we proceed farther in this subject, and examine particularly all the causes of pride and humility, 'twill be proper to make some limitations to the general system, that all agreeable objects, related to ourselves by an association of ideas and of impressions, produce pride, and disagreeable ones, humility: and these limitations are derived from the very nature of the subject.
I. Suppose an agreeable object to acquire a relation to self, the first passion that appears on this occasion is joy; and this passion discovers itself upon a slighter relation than pride and vain-glory. We may feel joy upon being present at a feast, where our senses are regaled with delicacies of every kind: but 'tis only the master of the feast, who, beside the same joy, has the additional passion of self-applause and vanity. 'Tis true, men sometimes boast of a great entertainment, at which they have only been present; and by so small a relation convert their pleasure into pride: but however this must in general be owned, that joy arises from a more inconsiderable relation than vanity, and that many things, which are too foreign to produce pride, are yet able to give us a delight and pleasure. The reason of the difference may be explained thus. A relation is requisite to joy, in order to approach the object to us, and make it give us any satisfaction. But beside this, which is common to both passions, 'tis requisite to pride, in order to produce a transition from one passion to another, and convert the satisfaction into vanity. As it has a double task to perform, it must be endowed with double force and energy. To which we may add, that where agreeable objects bear not a very close relation to ourselves, they commonly do to some other person; and this latter relation not only excels, but even diminishes, and sometimes destroys the former, as we shall see afterwards.
Here then is the first limitation we must make to our general position, that every thing related to us, which produces pleasure or pain, produces likewise pride or humility. There is not only a relation required, but a close one, and a closer than is required to joy.
II. The second limitation is, that the agreeable or disagreeable object be not only closely related, but also peculiar to ourselves, or at least common to us with a few persons. 'Tis a quality observable in human nature, and which we shall endeavour to explain afterwards, that every thing, which is often presented, and to which we have been long accustomed, loses its value in our eyes, and is in a little time despised and neglected. We likewise judge of objects more from comparison than from their real and intrinsic merit; and where we cannot by some contrast enhance their value, we are apt to overlook even what is essentially good in them. These qualities of the mind have an effect upon joy as well as pride; and 'tis remarkable, that goods, which are common to all mankind, and have become familiar to us by custom, give us little satisfaction, though perhaps of a more excellent kind than those on which, for their singularity, we set a much higher value. But though this circumstance operates on both these passions, it has a much greater influence on vanity. We are rejoiced for many goods, which, on account of their frequency, give us no pride. Health, when it returns after a long absence, affords us a very sensible satisfaction; but is seldom regarded as a subject of vanity, because 'tis shared with such vast numbers.
The reason why pride is so much more delicate in this particular than joy, I take to be as follows. In order to excite pride, there are always two objects we must contemplate, viz. the cause, or that object which produces pleasure; and self, which is the real object of the passion. But joy has only one object necessary to its production, viz. that which gives pleasure; and though it be requisite that this bear some relation to self, yet that is only requisite in order to render it agreeable; nor is self, properly speaking, the object of this passion. Since, therefore, pride has, in a manner, two objects to which it directs our view, it follows, that where neither of them have any singularity, the passion must be more weakened upon that account than a passion which has only one object. Upon comparing ourselves with others, as we are every moment apt to do, we find we are not in the least distinguished; and, upon comparing the object we possess, we discover still the same unlucky circumstance. By two comparisons so disadvantageous, the passion must be entirely destroyed.
III. The third limitation is, that the pleasant or painful object be very discernible and obvious, and that not only to ourselves but to others also. This circumstance, like the two foregoing, has an effect upon joy as well as pride. We fancy ourselves more happy, as well as more virtuous or beautiful, when we appear so to others; but are still more ostentatious of our virtues than of our pleasures. This proceeds from causes which I shall endeavour to explain afterwards.
IV. The fourth limitation is derived from the inconstancy of the cause of these passions, and from the short duration of its connexion with ourselves. What is casual and inconstant gives but little joy, and less pride. We are not much satisfied with the thing itself; and are still less apt to feel any new degrees of self-satisfaction upon its account. We foresee and anticipate its change by the imagination, which makes us little satisfied with the thing: we compare it to ourselves, whose existence is more durable, by which means its inconstancy appears still greater. It seems ridiculous to infer an excellency in ourselves from an object which is of so much shorter duration, and attends us during so small a part of our existence. 'Twill be easy to comprehend the reason why this cause operates not with the same force in joy as in pride; since the idea of self is not so essential to the former passion as to the latter.
V. I may add, as a fifth limitation, or rather enlargement of this system, that general rules have a great influence upon pride and humility, as well as on all the other passions. Hence we form a notion of different ranks of men, suitable to the power or riches they are possessed of; and this notion we change not upon account of any peculiarities of the health or temper of the persons, which may deprive them of all enjoyment in their possessions. This may be accounted for from the same principles that explained the influence of general rules on the understanding. Custom readily carries us beyond the just bounds in our passions as well as in our reasonings.
It may not be amiss to observe on this occasion, that the influence of general rules and maxims on the passions very much contributes to facilitate the effects of all the principles, which we shall explain in the progress of this Treatise. For 'tis evident, that if a person, full grown, and of the same nature with ourselves, were on a sudden transported into our world, he would be very much embarrassed with every object, and would not readily find what degree of love or hatred, pride or humility, or any other passion he ought to attribute to it. The passions are often varied by very inconsiderable principles; and these do not always play with a perfect regularity, especially on the first trial. But as custom and practice have brought to light all these principles, and have settled the just value of every thing; this must certainly contribute to the easy production of the passions, and guide us, by means of general established maxims, in the proportions we ought to observe in preferring one object to another. This remark may, perhaps, serve to obviate difficulties that may arise concerning some causes which I shall hereafter ascribe to particular passions, and which may be esteemed too refined to operate so universally and certainly as they are found to do. I shall close this subject with a reflection derived from these five limitations. This reflection is, that the persons who are proudest, and who, in the eye of the world, have most reason for their pride, are not always the happiest; nor the most humble always the most miserable, as may at first sight be imagined from this system. An evil may be real, though its cause has no relation to us: it may be real, without being peculiar: it may be real without showing itself to others: it may be real, without being constant: and it may be real, without falling under the general rules. Such evils as these will not fail to render us miserable, though they have little tendency to diminish pride: and perhaps the most real and the most solid evils of life will be found of this nature.
Taking these limitations along with us, let us proceed to examine the causes of pride and humility, and see whether in every case we can discover the double relations by which they operate on the passions. If we find that all these causes are related to self, and produce a pleasure or uneasiness separate from the passion, there will remain no farther scruple with regard to the present system. We shall principally endeavour to prove the latter point, the former being in a manner self-evident.
To begin with vice and virtue, which are the most obvious causes of these passions, 'twould be entirely foreign to my present purpose to enter upon the controversy, which of late years has so much excited the curiosity of the public, whether these moral distinctions be founded on natural and original principles, or arise from interest and education. The examination of this I reserve for the following book; and, in the mean time, shall endeavour to show, that my system maintains its ground upon either of these hypotheses, which will be a strong proof of its solidity.
For, granting that morality had no foundation in nature, it must still be allowed, that vice and virtue, either from self-interest or the prejudices of education, produce in us a real pain and pleasure; and this we may observe to be strenuously asserted by the defenders of that hypothesis. Every passion, habit, or turn of character (say they) which has a tendency to our advantage or prejudice, gives a delight or uneasiness; and 'tis from thence the approbation or disapprobation arises. We easily gain from the liberality of others, but are always in danger of losing by their avarice: courage defends us, but cowardice lays us open to every attack: justice is the support of society, but injustice, unless checked, would quickly prove its ruin: humility exalts, but pride mortifies us. For these reasons the former qualities are esteemed virtues, and the latter regarded as vices. Now, since 'tis granted there is a delight or uneasiness still attending merit or demerit of every kind, this is all that is requisite for my purpose.
But I go farther, and observe, that this moral hypothesis and my present system not only agree together, but also that, allowing the former to be just, 'tis an absolute and invincible proof of the latter. For if all morality be founded on the pain or pleasure which arises from the prospect of any loss or advantage that may result from our own characters, or from those of others, all the effects of morality must be derived from the same pain or pleasure, and, among the rest, the passions of pride and humility. The very essence of virtue, according to this hypothesis, is to produce pleasure, and that of vice to give pain. The virtue and vice must be part of our character, in order to excite pride or humility. What farther proof can we desire for the double relation of impressions and ideas?
The same unquestionable argument may be derived from the opinion of those who maintain that morality is something real, essential, and founded on nature. The most probable hypothesis, which has been advanced to explain the distinction betwixt vice and virtue, and the origin of moral rights and obligations, is, that from a primary constitution of nature, certain characters and passions, by the very view and contemplation, produce a pain, and others in like manner excite a pleasure. The uneasiness and satisfaction are not only inseparable from vice and virtue, but constitute their very nature and essence. To approve of a character is to feel an original delight upon its appearance. To disapprove of it is to be sensible of an uneasiness. The pain and pleasure therefore being the primary causes of vice and virtue, must also be the causes of all their effects, and consequently of pride and humility, which are the unavoidable attendants of that distinction.
But, supposing this hypothesis of moral philosophy should be allowed to be false, 'tis still evident that pain and pleasure, if not the causes of vice and virtue, are at least inseparable from them. A generous and noble character affords a satisfaction even in the survey; and when presented to us, though only in a poem or fable, never fails to charm and delight us. On the other hand, cruelty and treachery displease from their very nature; nor is it possible ever to reconcile us to these qualities, either in ourselves or others. Thus, one hypothesis of morality is an undeniable proof of the foregoing system, and the other at worst agrees with it.
But pride and humility arise not from these qualities alone of the mind, which, according to the vulgar systems of ethicks, have been comprehended as parts of moral duty, but from any other that has a connexion with pleasure and uneasiness. Nothing flatters our vanity more than the talent of pleasing by our wit, good humour, or any other accomplishment; and nothing gives us a more sensible mortification than a disappointment in any attempt of that nature. No one has ever been able to tell what wit is, and to show why such a system of thought must be received under that denomination, and such another rejected. 'Tis only by taste we can decide concerning it, nor are we possessed of any other standard, upon which we can form a judgment of this kind. Now, what is this taste, from which true and false wit in a manner receive their being, and without which no thought can have a title to either of these denominations? 'Tis plainly nothing but a sensation of pleasure from true wit, and of uneasiness from false, without our being able to tell the reasons of that pleasure or uneasiness. The power of bestowing these opposite sensations is, therefore, the very essence of true and false wit, and consequently the cause of that pride or humility which arises from them.
There may perhaps be some, who, being accustomed to the style of the schools and pulpit, and having never considered human nature in any other light, than that in which they place it, may here be surprised to hear me talk of virtue as exciting pride, which they look upon as a vice; and of vice as producing humility, which they have been taught to consider as a virtue. But not to dispute about words, I observe, that by pride I understand that agreeable impression, which arises in the mind, when the view either of our virtue, beauty, riches or power, makes us satisfied with ourselves; and that by humility I mean the opposite impression. 'Tis evident the former impression is not always vicious, nor the latter virtuous. The most rigid morality allows us to receive a pleasure from reflecting on a generous action; and 'tis by none esteemed a virtue to feel any fruitless remorses upon the thoughts of past villany and baseness. Let us, therefore, examine these impressions, considered in themselves; and inquire into their causes, whether placed on the mind or body, without troubling ourselves at present with that merit or blame, which may attend them.
Whether we consider the body as a part of ourselves, or assent to those philosophers, who regard it as something external, it must still be allowed to be near enough connected with us to form one of these double relations, which I have asserted to be necessary to the causes of pride and humility. Wherever, therefore, we can find the other relation of impressions to join to this of ideas, we may expect with assurance either of these passions, according as the impression is pleasant or uneasy. But beauty of all kinds gives us a peculiar delight and satisfaction; as deformity produces pain, upon whatever subject it may be placed, and whether surveyed in an animate or inanimate object. If the beauty or deformity, therefore, be placed upon our own bodies, this pleasure or uneasiness must be converted into pride or humility, as having in this case all the circumstances requisite to produce a perfect transition of impressions and ideas. These opposite sensations are related to the opposite passions. The beauty or deformity is closely related to self, the object of both these passions. No wonder, then, our own beauty becomes an object of pride, and deformity of humility.
But this effect of personal and bodily qualities is not only a proof of the present system, by showing that the passions arise not in this case without all the circumstances I have required, but may be employed as a stronger and more convincing argument. If we consider all the hypotheses which have been formed either by philosophy or common reason, to explain the difference betwixt beauty and deformity, we shall find that all of them resolve into this, that beauty is such an order and construction of parts, as, either by the primary constitution of our nature, by custom, or by caprice, is fitted to give a pleasure and satisfaction to the soul. This is the distinguishing character of beauty, and forms all the difference betwixt it and deformity, whose natural tendency is to produce uneasiness. Pleasure and pain, therefore, are not only necessary attendants of beauty and deformity, but constitute their very essence. And, indeed, if we consider that a great part of the beauty which we admire either in animals or in other objects is derived from the idea of convenience and utility, we shall make no scruple to assent to this opinion. That shape which produces strength is beautiful in one animal; and that which is a sign of agility, in another. The order and convenience of a palace are no less essential to its beauty than its mere figure and appearance. In like manner the rules of architecture require, that the top of a pillar should be more slender than its base, and that because such a figure conveys to us the idea of security, which is pleasant; whereas the contrary form gives us the apprehension of danger, which is uneasy. From innumerable instances of this kind, as well as from considering that beauty, like wit, cannot be defined, but is discerned only by a taste or sensation, we may conclude that beauty is nothing but a form, which produces pleasure, as deformity is a structure of parts which conveys pain; and since the power of producing pain and pleasure make in this manner the essence of beauty and deformity, all the effects of these qualities must be derived from the sensation; and among the rest pride and humility, which of all their effects are the most common and remarkable.
This argument I esteem just and decisive; but in order to give greater authority to the present reasoning, let us suppose it false for a moment, and see what will follow. 'Tis certain, then, that if the power of producing pleasure and pain forms not the essence of beauty and deformity, the sensations are at least inseparable from the qualities, and 'tis even difficult to consider them apart. Now, there is nothing common to natural and moral beauty (both of which are the causes of pride), but this power of producing pleasure; and as a common effect always supposes a common cause, 'tis plain that pleasure must in both cases be the real and influencing cause of the passion. Again, there is nothing originally different betwixt the beauty of our bodies and the beauty of external and foreign objects, but that the one has a near relation to ourselves, which is waiting in the other. This original difference, therefore, must be the cause of all their other differences, and, among the rest, of their different influence upon the passion of pride, which is excited by the beauty of our person, but is not affected in the least by that of foreign and external objects. Placing then these two conclusions together, we find they compose the preceding system betwixt them, viz. that pleasure, as a related or resembling impression, when placed on a related object, by a natural transition produces pride, and its contrary, humility. This system, then, seems already sufficiently confirmed by experience, though we have not yet exhausted all our arguments.
'Tis not the beauty of the body alone that produces pride, but also its strength and force. Strength is a kind of power, and therefore the desire to excel in strength is to be considered as an inferior species of ambition. For this reason the present phenomenon will be sufficiently accounted for in explaining that passion.
Concerning all other bodily accomplishments, we may observe, in general, that whatever in ourselves is either useful, beautiful or surprising, is an object of pride, and its contrary of humility. Now, 'tis obvious that every thing useful, beautiful or surprising, agrees in producing a separate pleasure, and agrees in nothing else. The pleasure, therefore, with relation to self, must be the cause of the passion.
Though it should not be questioned whether beauty be not something real, and different from the power of producing pleasure, it can never be disputed, that, as surprise is nothing but a pleasure arising from novelty, it is not, properly speaking, a quality in any object, but merely a passion or impression in the soul. It must therefore be from that impression that pride by a natural transition arises. And it arises so naturally, that there is nothing in us, or belonging to us, which produces surprise, that does not at the same time excite that other passion. Thus, we are vain of the surprising adventures we have met with, the escapes we have made, and dangers we have been exposed to. Hence the origin of vulgar lying; where men, without any interest, and merely out of vanity, heap up a number of extraordinary events, which are either the fictions of their brain, or, if true, have at least no connexion with themselves. Their fruitful invention supplies them with a variety of adventures; and where that talent is wanting, they appropriate such as belong to others, in order to satisfy their vanity.
In this phenomenon are contained two curious experiments, which, if we compare them together, according to the known rules, by which we judge of cause and effect in anatomy, natural philosophy, and other sciences, will be an undeniable argument for that influence of the double relations above-mentioned. By one of these experiments we find, that an object produces pride merely by the interposition of pleasure; and that because the quality by which it produces pride, is in reality nothing but the power of producing pleasure. By the other experiment we find, that the pleasure produces the pride by a transition along related ideas; because when we cut off that relation, the passion is immediately destroyed. A surprising adventure, in which we have been ourselves engaged, is related to us, and by that means produces pride: but the adventures of others, though they may cause pleasure, yet, for want of this relation of ideas, never excite that passion. What farther proof can be desired for the present system?
There is only one objection to this system with regard to our body; which is, that though nothing be more agreeable than health, and more painful than sickness, yet commonly men are neither proud of the one, nor mortified with the other. This will easily be accounted for, if we consider the second and fourth limitations, proposed to our general system. It was observed, that no object ever produces pride or humility, if it has not something peculiar to ourself; as also, that every cause of that passion must be in some measure constant, and hold some proportion to the duration of ourself, which is its object. Now, as health and sickness vary incessantly to all men, and there is none who is solely or certainly fixed in either, these accidental blessings and calamities are in a manner separated from us, and are never considered as connected with our being and existence. And that this account is just, appears hence, that wherever a malady of any kind is so rooted in our constitution that we no longer entertain any hopes of recovery, from that moment it becomes an object of humility; as is evident in old men, whom nothing mortifies more than the consideration of their age and infirmities. They endeavour, as long as possible, to conceal their blindness and deafness, their rheums and gout; nor do they ever confess them without reluctance and uneasiness. And though young men are not ashamed of every headache or cold they fall into, yet no topic is so proper to mortify human pride, and make us entertain a mean opinion of our nature, than this, that we are every moment of our lives subject to such infirmities. This sufficiently proves that bodily pain and sickness are in themselves proper causes of humility; though the custom of estimating every thing by comparison more than by its intrinsic worth and value, makes us overlook these calamities, which we find to be incident to every one, and causes us to form an idea of our merit and character independent of them.
We are ashamed of such maladies as affect others, and are either dangerous or disagreeable to them. Of the epilepsy, because it gives a horror to every one present; of the itch, because it is infectious; of the king's evil, because it commonly goes to posterity. Men always consider the sentiments of others in their judgment of themselves. This has evidently appeared in some of the foregoing reasonings, and will appear still more evidently, and be more fully explained afterwards.
But though pride and humility have the qualities of our mind and body, that is self, for their natural and more immediate causes, we find by experience that there are many other objects which produce these affections, and that the primary one is, in some measure, obscured and lost by the multiplicity of foreign and extrinsic. We round a vanity upon houses, gardens, equipages, as well as upon personal merit and accomplishments; and though these external advantages be in themselves widely distant from thought or a person, yet they considerably influence even a passion, which is directed to that as its ultimate object. This happens when external objects acquire any particular relation to ourselves, and are associated or connected with us. A beautiful fish in the ocean, an animal in a desart, and indeed any thing that neither belongs, nor is related to us, has no manner of influence on our vanity, whatever extraordinary qualities it may be endowed with, and whatever degree of surprise and admiration it may naturally occasion. It must be some way associated with us in order to touch our pride. Its idea must hang in a manner upon that of ourselves; and the transition from the one to the other must be easy and natural.
But here 'tis remarkable, that though the relation of resemblance operates upon the mind in the same manner as contiguity and causation, in conveying us from one idea to another, yet 'tis seldom a foundation either of pride or of humility. If we resemble a person in any of the valuable parts of his character, we must, in some degree, possess the quality in which we resemble him; and this quality we always choose to survey directly in ourselves, rather than by reflection in another person, when we would found upon it any degree of vanity. So that though a likeness may occasionally produce that passion, by suggesting a more advantageous idea of ourselves, 'tis there the view, fixes at last, and the passion finds its ultimate and final cause.
There are instances, indeed, wherein men show a vanity in resembling a great man in his countenance, shape, air, or other minute circumstances, that contribute not in any degree to his reputation; but it must be confessed, that this extends not very far, nor is of any considerable moment in these affections. For this I assign the following reason. We can never have a vanity of resembling in trifles any person, unless he be possessed of very shining qualities, which give us a respect and veneration for him. These qualities, then, are, properly speaking, the causes of our vanity, by means of their relation to ourselves. Now, after what manner are they related to ourselves? They are parts of the person we value, and, consequently, connected with these trifles; which are also supposed to be parts of him. These trifles are connected with the resembling qualities in us; and these qualities in us, being parts, are connected with the whole; and, by that means, form a chain of several links betwixt ourselves and the shining qualities of the person we resemble. But, besides that this multitude of relations must weaken the connexion, 'tis evident the mind, in passing from the shining qualities to the trivial ones, must, by that contrast, the better perceive the minuteness of the latter, and be, in some measure, ashamed of the comparison and resemblance.
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